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White collar AI

CAM WINSTANLEY | D/SRUPTION MAGAZINE | 23 MAY 2017

Christopher O’Driscoll, head of disruption for financial services at PA Consulting Group has been quoted extensively in an article on artificial intelligence in D/sruption Magazine which examines whether machines are poised to take over the office.

The article notes that as AI and machine learning begins to impart machines with some level of insight, they are starting to threaten not just blue collar jobs but white collar ones too. It states that it makes financial sense to turn tasks over to automated systems that are never late, never sick and don’t require paid holidays.

Despite this, Christopher notes that humans still matter in the workplace and part of his role involves advising businesses on how they can stay ahead with new technological trends. He believes that: “a key factor is understanding that the human touch is integral to most high value tasks. Since common sense, emotional intelligence, powers of persuasion and ‘doing the right thing’ based on moral judgement all require a human in the room, human roles remain vital to all businesses.”

He goes on to say that: “We’re not all sitting down and using technology more. We’re allowing it to do the work so we can spend more time with each other. In this way, new technologies can help not only the products and services sector but also the customer as well. The future is this combination of part human, part algorithm.”

Looking at the fund management industry, the article notes that AI frees up team time to increase time with clients and provide more tailored services, instead of team members focusing on manual and repetitive tasks such as obtaining market data or managing diaries. This disruption interrupts the career ladder for more junior team members who would traditionally bear the brunt of these tasks.

Christopher adds: “Change has been so quick that younger generations are living and breathing these newer technologies. In many cases, they’re driving them forwards too, so it’s possible that they have a greater understanding of how best to use them than their bosses do.”

He concludes that: “This creates a space in which the old guard meeting the young guard really works. You have a generation that’s experienced an industry in all of its peaks, troughs and regulatory changes, so they can spot the challenges, the opportunities and the friction points that technology might be able to help with. Then you have this younger generation that understands the technology but doesn’t have the experience to apply it to market. Put those together and you have something that’s really quite special.”

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